I went to a party a few days before Christmas – this would be five years ago. My friends Bob and Di were the hosts; charming and hospitable as always. We all ate and drank rather a lot over several hours – they live in the village, within walking distance for most of us, so we were were able to relax and not count the units.
At some point, Bob told us about a fancy dress party they had been to, before moving to Mahsrae (I’m imitating BD and using backspeak, to save myself from the Power of Google). He went as Gandhi. This was not an obvious choice; he is slim but well built, with a head of thick white hair and a white beard and moustache (he does not look in the least like Father Christmas) and it was a little hard to imagine, but apparently he managed to make himself look convincing by means of a home-made dhoti – the turban was less authentic. Someone, knowing I’d worn a sari at a wedding I had been to in Madras earlier that year, said we’d make an attractive pair.
We had already all agreed to meet up at the village pub on Christmas Day for a quick drink before the family festivities. I’m not sure who first suggested it – it could even have been me – but at some point I did say that I’d wear my sari if he’d wear his dhoti. He agreed. I’m afraid he was one over the eight at the time.
On Christmas Day there is a church service at ten in the morning, at which I always play the organ. A sari-wearing blonde organist is an unlikely sight in an English country church, but not an unwelcome one, I hope. Afterwards I walked the half-mile to church. There was Bob. In trousers, a shirt and a jacket. Pfft.
Anyway, they were pleased to see me and quite impressed, not least for my sari-folding skills – secure with no pins. Furthermore, not many middle-aged women go around, even now, in this country with a bare midriff and no one had ever seen mine before. It is a simple sari, in plain dark red, fine georgette silk, and the short tight blouse is decorated with gold thread. I stood chatting, clutching my half pint, and I felt something cold at my waist. I turned. Bob, giggling, was pressing his pint mug to my exposed flesh. Really, he’s such a boy.